Sunday, April 11, 2010

Mae West: Shimmy with Sophie

By 1918 MAE WEST had added a new number to her act: "Ev'ybody Shimmies Now."
• • "Ev'rybody Shimmies Now" had three collaborators; the lyrics were by Eugene West, and Joe Gold wrote the music along with Brooklynite Edmund J. Porray. In 1918 Tin Pan Alley music publisher Charles K. Harris, based in Union Square by then, published and promoted the frisky new tune.
• • Encouraged by the applause she received, Mae wedded herself to both the new song and dance by posing for the sheet music. Shortly after, she also added the Shimmy to her act in Hammerstein's "Sometime" [1919] while she sang the song "What Do I Have to Do to Get It."
• • Mae's shimmy was a great crowd-pleaser, noted several entertainment and nightlife critics, so she kept it in her act. In 1921, Jean Schwartz had written the music for a Schubert Brothers production — — including, apparently, a shimmy that was scripted specifically for a Mae West number called "The Trial of Shimmy Mae."
• • While the 25-year-old singing comedienne was still an up-and-comer in 1918, always searching for good material and always striving for more forward momentum, there were many well-established female stars who seemed to move quite easily from success to success.
• • Vaudeville Queen Sophie & Her 5 Kings • •
• • Sophie Tucker [1884 1966], for instance, was a headlining vaudeville star wherever she appeared. According to the researchers at Archeophone (who did the liner notes for her last CD), while busy touring, Tucker had stopped recording during a brief period. However, when she did return to the studio in late 1918, it was with her new act, The Five Kings of Syncopation, for a new label called Aeolian-Vocalion. Two of the hottest and wildest numbers she cut with her new 5-piece band were "Please Don't Take My Harem Away" and "Everybody Shimmies Now," on which she perfects her talk-singing style with impeccable syncopated timing.
• • Sophie Tucker "Everybody Shimmies Now" [1919] — — recorded on the Aeolian-Vocalion label with The Five Kings of Syncopation — — also positioned her to pose on the sheet music, where the 35-year-old looks every inch the diva.
• • Meet the man who put singers on so many song sheets.
• • Charles Kassel Harris [1867 — 1930] • •
• • According to The Parlor Songs Association, as a publisher and promoter of music, Charles Kassel Harris was a great innovator and, as a result, was one of the most successful publishers of Tin Pan Alley over many years. His ability to judge which songs would sell was uncanny and he was particularly adept at persuading performers to introduce his songs. He is credited with being the first publisher to print photographs of singers on the sheet music, a practice that no doubt further endeared him to the performers. ... [— — information provided by The Parlor Songs Association, Inc., Richard A. Reublin and/ or Robert L. Maine.]

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• • Photo: • • Mae West • • 1918 • •
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1 comment:

  1. R. Mark Desjardns11:20 AM

    It is interesting to note that while up and coming Mae West was prominently featured on several song sheets during the early part of her New York stage career, she was need recorded at that time. It was not until she went to Hollywood that she made her first recordings.